Re: [-empyre-] bloggers sink the systemic star

On Jun 16, 2005, at 12:22 AM, _s.v.m_ wrote:

IMHO: [please select]:

::blogs *can* [but don't always] operate as communication valves irrespective of overarching hierarchical dependencies [ie moolah-based or intellectual/elitist based]::

2. a more indepth unpack [for the brave amongst us;)]:


I appreciate the greater depth of the second option.

#blogs *can* [ad nauseam] present as less intrinsically reliant on fiscal or hierarchical reward-systems [ie such as newscasting/journalism] + projecting information outside of a framework formulated within these rigid economic dependencies [ie having the opportunity (with)in blogdom 2 present ur take thru an individualised opinion filter as opposed 2 a primarily monetary_inflected 1]. of course, the risks for those still even partially centred within a systemic reality should be acknowledged when Blogging_Against/Outside_The_Machine [eg being dooced ].

Interesting. I knew about Dooce - heard her on NPR a while ago. I think her case actually works to undermine your argument of how useful P2P and blogging are. I get to that later.

First, I don't get the opposition: from my perspective there is no "outside the system". Such a notion is much like the "Define the word 'Universe', give three examples." paradox. There is only The System, as there is only one world we live in: this one. From my perspective the entire system (blogs, email, internet, the lot) is based in a rapacious global industrialism which developed in concert with and as a method of survival for, the rapid expansion of human population in the 20th century and its massive exploitation of petroleum fuel.

#blogs *may* assist in reconceptualising the notion of "true" information existing as a type of striation within verified channels of data/media - those stamped with some type of cultural or canonistically_drenched validity via reification displays [on/in networks] or communication channels grinding within monetary exchanges. i'm not necessarily fancying blogging or p2p as outright replacements of certain bloated discourses/ideologies [capitalism or democracy, any1?;)] - wot i'm threading/flagging r indicators that show a subtle devolution of media/power fundaments + their microcosmic constructions + corresponding knee-jerk constrictions that often indicate a type of coded_clinging in the face of rewriting the subliminal core of societal/civilisation/species functioning?

Hmmm - there are a number of challenges that blogging poses that are rather interesting. For example, one news organisation has opened up a kind of blogging system, using a wikipedial model. I forget the organisation (I read about it in an early morning fog over breakfast) but the writer commented on a fundamental problem with this, which is how it jives with notions of "truth" or levels of trust in a source. For example, wikipedia says:

"...Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields."

If this notion is extended to news, then the notion of fairness or accuracy in reporting is problematised: it's all reduced to propaganda and hearsay.

p2p represents no challenge to capitalism whatsoever. As a former employee at Napster during its heyday I can attest directly to this. While there, Napster was bought by BMG, and from there was developed the idea of the billing client for P2P. This vision of P2P created the 95% rule, which was and is how much of the content industry operates. [if 95% of the people do the sheep thing and act as good little citizens and pay up, there's no problem. The point then is to more sharply define the boundary and expand the labour necessary to defeat the boundary, in order to keep the 5% at 5%. Of course, depending on the system in question, the actual percentage varies, but the idea holds.... for verification years after the fact:

and setting up speed bumps will keep the uninformed and incompetent from stealing music: media_music_cd_dc

making the 95% more like 95% or 96%. ]

At Napster we were building a system that would put a meter on the downloading. that the RIAA found its litigation process v. Napster more valuable is sad, as just a few years later, Apple implemented a similar system. The differences are dramatic: Apple = central server + many dependent clients. The Napster system would have been: distributed clients/servers + central "billing / ID server". We were kicking around prices of 10 cents per DL. Apple charges 99 cents per DL. It's all money. It's all capitalism.

Things like Limewire et al are temporary and eternal. People will trade warez. But the number of people who do that will always be a minority, as the corporations bank on the basic decency and honesty of the general public. It's been generally proven that piracy did not effect the music industry at all. The same is generally seen as true for the software industry.

P2P and blogging are just specific and temporary instances of human activity at a given point in technology. I remember back in the 1980s and early 1990s where there were "secret" BBS's - one paid a fee or knew a friend who paid a fee, and one could go to a server address and DL all the files that my little 1200 baud modem could handle. And with my first modem (300 baud) if I didn't get the landline phone receiver in the rubber receptacles right, it would mess up the transmission or not even connect.

That didn't bring about a socialist order any faster than Napster / Kazaa / Blogging / Limewire / bitTorrent did or will.

I think it's important to keep questions of political economy distinct and focussed.

I also don't see a devolution of media/power fundaments. I see an increasing centralisation of media and power. Blogging is easily disrupted - just talk to the Chinese and Microsoft - blogs on MSN that have words like Democracy, Tienamin Square, Chinese Reform, etc. are all blocked from even reaching the Chinese servers.

Now, the obvious response is to speak in code, such as 1337, but blocking

Democracy, Tienamin Square, Chinese Reform


D3m0cr4cy, 713n4m1n 5qu4r3, Ch1n353 R3f0rm


[)3|\/|0(|2@(`/, +13|\|@|\/|1|\| $q|_|@|23, (|-|1|\|3$3 |23|=0|2|\/|

is a fairly trivial thing to program.

On top of that, one's access to the internet is a function of an ISP, usually a huge corporation (SBC in my case) and restrictions on one's ability to use one's account anonymously and privately are also under attack, per this article on how the US Justice dept. is looking into having ISPs track ALL internet traffic for several months (similar to how they require publicly traded corps retain email for 2 years): tag=nefd.lede

So, any ideas that blogging or even being on the internet at all are feeding some kind of devolution of power in contemporary political economy is, IMHO, wishful thinking.

A *NICE* wish, but nonetheless illusory.

Therefore, political engagement on the web via blogging or P2P or email or website or BBS has to be seen from this angle: that it is a complex object, subject to influence and transformation, but the fundaments of the capitalist political economy of wage slavery, the maintenance of inequality, class structure, imperialism, fictional corporate entities, global credit schemes, etc. are not the least bit threatened by any of the above mentioned technologies.

The only thing that will change capitalism into socialism (I use socialism in a more generic sense - where the concrete needs of all people are put before the needs of fictional corporate entities and the elites that direct such organisations) is concrete activities by people. Some will die in the process (defending the capitalist order or opposing it - the numbers depending on how universal the transformation process is). These technologies might be useful in that political transformation, but given the ability for the ruling elites and their functionaries to restrict, deter, or otherwise monitor, meter, and prosecute net behaviour/chatter, I don't see the technology posing any significant challenge to the present answer to the questions:

Who Owns What You Use?
Who Owns What You Do?

This thrust was the essence of my first response to jimpunks and screenfull postings. I saw much of their work as elitist posing. There is nothing WRONG with that ( I think it's a good thing on the whole - I'd rather people do that than set up blogs with devotional pictures of kittens or movie stars) : but I think it's important to keep it in perspective - it's gestural, not strategic - a personal protest, not a revolution. We need gestures and personal protests, but we have to understand how a highly functioning capitalist order USES protest and gestures in order to refine their strategies of domination and imperialism.

Example: people protest about problem (x). The elites adjust policies that prevents some majority of those affected by (x) to be so affected. In the meantime, cultural rituals are devised in order to mystify and placate the rest. Bread (x) and Circuses (culture).

The problem is when:
Once (x) is no longer modifiable by policy, and culture can no longer paper over the differences. Then there is struggle, people die, and new elites (either take power or are elected to) provide better (x) and a different culture emerges from this.

Given the present Global dependence on fossil fuels, expect (x) to get extremely variable in the not so distant future, and for there to be great unrest in the process. If this unrest results in a progressive development to a socialist order that is responsive to the needs, hopes, and desires of all people remains to be seen. I do think P2P won't have anything to do with the establishment of such an order. Localised agriculture, maybe...


thanks for your clarification! Good stuff! I hope you find my response worthwhile.

best regards,


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